Antec 1200 Ultimate Gamer Tower

overviewAntec has been on the forefront of quality case design for sometime. While not always the flashiest of cases, Antec’s build quality and functionally generally ranks toward the top of the charts. However, recently Antec has made a momentum shift, and produced a product line to appeal to gamers and enthusiast system builders alike. Enter the Antec Twelve Hundred Case, that in Antec’s own words: 

 

Introduction

Antec has been on the forefront of quality case design for sometime. While not always the flashiest of cases, Antec’s build quality and functionally generally ranks toward the top of the charts. However, recently Antec has made a momentum shift, and produced a product line to appeal to gamers and enthusiast system builders alike. Enter the Antec Twelve Hundred Case, that in Antec’s own words:

“The Twelve Hundred is Antec’s top-of-the-line case for gamers looking to build an exceptionally spacious and robustly cooled system. Building off the legacy of the best-selling award-winning Nine Hundred enclosure, the Twelve Hundred expands upon that case’s cooling and capacity with more fans, more space, and improved features such as a perforated front panel and washable air filters. The Twelve Hundred is positioned towards gamers looking for the very best, as well as those hoping to upgrade from their Nine Hundred. In addition, professional builders looking for an enclosure with unprecedented size and cooling may be interested in the Twelve Hundred.”

The cooling capabilities of the Antec Twelve Hundred are nothing short of extraordinary. The Twelve Hundred features one top 200mm fan, two rear 120mm fans, three front 120mm fans, and two additional 120mm fan mounts to cool the graphic card and the CPU areas. All of the preinstalled system fans come wired with a three-speed switch control to adjust fan speeds right out of the box. Also, the case features a water cooling platform that can be used to position a reservoir or a pump.

You want expansion space? This case has it to spare. The Twelve Hundred features twelve front drive bays, and seven rear expansion slots, as well as an extremely spacious environment to work in. The case is more than large enough to facilitate the easy installation of even the largest video cards.

The outstanding case functionality doesn’t just stop in the expansion department, the enclosure features a perforated front panel to facilitate more airflow, and a washable air filters. The Twelve Hundred also provides front mounted USB(x2), eSATA, and HD Audio In & Out ports for ease of access.

 

Lets move on and take a look at the official features & specifications breakdown…

Features
  • 12 Drive Bays
  • Perforated front bezel for maximum air intake
  • Washable air filters reduce dust build up in your system
  • Advanced Cooling System:
    • 1 top special 200 x 30 mm blue LED exhaust fan with 3-speed switch control (LEDs can be switched off as well)
    • 2 rear 120 x 25 mm special blue LED exhaust fans with 3-speed switch control
    • 3 front 120 x 25 mm special blue LED intake fans with front speed control
    • 1 side 120 x 25 mm fan to cool graphic cards (optional)
    • 1 middle 120mm fan to cool CPU or graphic cards (optional)
    • Water cooling platform for reservoir or pump
  • 7 expansion slots
  • Top mounted I/O ports for easy access
    • Power and reset button with blue LED
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x eSATA
    • HD Audio In and Out
  • Convenient top accessory tray for a personal media player
  • Motherboard: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, or Standard ATX
  • No Power Supply included: To optimize performance of your Twelve Hundred, your choice of power supply is crucial. Antec strongly recommends choosing from our NeoPower or TruePower series.
  • Dimensions:
    • 22.9″ (H) x 8.4″ (W) x 20.2″ (D)
    • 58.2 (H) x 21.3 (W) x 51.3 (D) cm
  • Weight:
    • Net: 31.9lbs / 14.5kg
    • Gross: 38.6lbs / 17.5kg
  • More Cooling, more capacity, more quality
    The Antec Twelve Hundred is the evolution of the best-selling Nine Hundred, expanding on its award-winning design with even more cooling, capacity, and convenience. The Twelve Hundred is incredibly robust, with 12 drive bays, 7 expansion slots, and space for even the largest graphics cards. To keep the most demanding systems nice and cool, the Twelve Hundred boasts an unprecedented cooling system, with a top mounted 200mm blue LED fan, two rear blue LED 120mm fans, and three front blue LED 120mm fans to cool the HDD cages. Factor in convenient features like front mounted USB, eSATA, and HD audio ports, and the Twelve Hundred obliterates the competition.

 

Packaging & External View

The Twelve Hundred arrives in a sturdy box with a slick black theme.

The front of the box displays a nice top down view graphic of the case.

The back of the box displays more impressive case pictures, along with the official feature rundown in a presented in different languages.

Once you open up the box, you find the Twelve Hundred packed securely between two Styrofoam guards, with an plastic bag over the case to further aid in scratch prevention. The case manual was front and center when we opened up the box.

Antec goes a step further, and provides an additional static cling plastic layer over the outside of the case window itself. Even with all this secure packaging, some damage occurred to our case sample, as I will delve into next.

Unfortunately, during shipment of our review sample, the white accessory box inside the case came lose and rattled around. This resulted in some pretty severe side window scratches from the inside. I’m not sure what was meant to secure the white accessory box in the first place, as no lose twist ties or tape was discovered loose in the case.

The Twelve Hundred also arrived with bent side panels that would not mesh flush with the case.

Compounding the before mentioned shipping issues, is the top of the case took a big enough of a hit to separated the plastic top panel from sitting flush on the case. However, the plastic tabs were not broken and this was the one damage issue that was easily correctable. I don’t think the case damage was as much a Antec packaging issue, as it was my usual issues with UPS handling of my packages. The case is quite heavy because of the quality construction, and if some care is not taken but the shipping firm it appears damage can easily result.

 

External View

The Antec Twelve Hundred is a monstrous case that one can only truly appreciate once is has been removed from its package. As previously mentioned the entire front panel is perforated to facilitate very efficient airflow into the case.

In its stock configuration the case allows for three External 5.25” bays and nine Internal 3.5” expansion bays in the front panel. However, this configuration can be altered to your own tastes. We will explore this customization opportunity in further detail, in the installation section of the review. The case makes use of 3 x 120mm front variable speed fans to provide more than adequate airflow, for even the warmest of systems. A perfect setup for those wishing to configure a Nvidia 3-Way SLI system on a hot running 790i Ultra board.

A close up image of one of the three fan speed switches located on the front of the case, that allow almost complete control over the front intake fan rpm’s. The washable fan filters can be seen here as well, a very nice design touch on Antec’s part, as most enthusiasts know dust can be hazards to your expensive components.

From a top view of the case we can see the large 200mm fan that blows hot air out of the case. During testing the 200mm exhaust fan did a outstanding job of increasing overall airflow, and venting the hot air that rises inside the case as well. No dead air spots are really present in this configuration. The Twelve Hundred also provides front mounted USB(x2), eSATA, and HD Audio In & Out ports for ease of access. Antec likes to call the top indentation a media storage tray for your media player or digital camera, but its seems like a stretch to tack on another feature to an already outstanding product.

This picture is just a close up image of the huge top 200mm exhaust fan. When powered on all the case fans are surrounded by a pleasing blue LED glow.

The side view of the case gives an overall impression of just how tall this case is, as I had to take a pretty severe down angle shot just to get it all in view. The case window houses an additional 120mm fan mount if you feel you require even more airflow inside the case.

The back of the case features two more speed controlled 120mm exhaust fans, seven expansion slots,  holes for water cooling tubing and a bottom mount PSU bracket.

This is a close up image of the fan speed control switches that control the top and rear exhaust fans. That’s it for the exterior, lets pop this case open and take a look inside this fine case.

 

Internal View

Once you remove the side panel you gain an appreciation for just how spacious the interior of this case is. The case does not feature a completely tool-less design, but Antec states this is done on purpose as:

“There are many reasons that Antec cases do not features tool-less designs. They facilitate more noise, break more regularly, and may have a greater support requirement. We have opted to utilize traditional designs for strength, quiet, and ease of use.”

The Twelve Hundred features twelve front drive bays, and seven rear expansion slots, as well as an extremely spacious environment to work in. The case is more than large enough to facilitate the easy installation of even the largest video cards.

At first glance it may appear that the thumb screws secure the drives in place, that is not the case. As you will see in the installation section, they actually secure the HD bays in place that the HD’s are secured too. Rubber supports are present in the bottom left of the case, to support any large and heavy power supplies you may wish to install.

A picture showcasing the front inside view of the case.

A picture showing the optical drive bay.

Located directly below the optical drive bay, is the first internal drive bay with a 120mm fan mount that you can secure an additional fan to blow air right over the GPU area, if you so choose. The bracket removes easily if you don’t wish to utilize  this feature.

And then located right below that is the two remaining internal drive bays. With this amount of space you should never run out of storage drive space with this system. Each bay has a its own 120mm intake fan to cool those performance HD’s for your monster gaming rig.

The rear of the case houses two speed control 120mm exhaust fans. These fans also light up with a blue LED glow when the case is powered on. The PSU mounts in the bottom of the case in what is fast becoming the status quo in new cases.

A close up image of the seven expansion slots. As you can see, the back of the case is extremely well ventilated too. Airflow should never be a problem in this case, no matter the monster system concoction your dreaming up. Holes already exist for water cooling as well.

A close up image of the rear exhaust fan area.

Here I present you will with a inside view of the top 200mm exhaust fan. From this perspective, you can get a better idea of just how large it is, as it take up most of the surface area of the top rear portion of the case.

This case does not leave you wanting for cable management either. With the backside panel removed you can see the numerous holes and space that exists for routing cables. Antec even goes as far as to provide you with reusable zip ties, to secure your cables with.

That’s it for the internal view, lets move on to the long awaited installation section…

 

Installation

To start off the installation section I took a standard ATX motherboard and mounted it in the case.

With just the board installed you can get a sense of just how roomy the interior of the case is. Plenty of room exist to route cables and components from any angle.

The installation of hard drives requires you to remove both side panels. This gives you access to a total of eight thumbscrews. Once the screws are removed it is a simple matter of sliding the hard drive cage forward. At this point the user has total access to mount and configured hard drives.

This is the point in the install process where you can convert internal bays to external ones if you so choose. You can remove screws in the front cover brackets, then remove the front intake fan and HD cage, and you just converted one of the internal expansion bays to another external one.

As far as HD installation is concerned, the fan pops off the front, you removed the thumbscrews securing the HD cage, the HD cage slides out the front, and then you can secure your drives the cage.

Then just slide the cage back in, replace your thumbscrews and the drive is secured. A simpler solution however, is if you start with your HD installation first, you can slid the cage backward into the case without hardware in the way, secure your drives then, and skip of few difficult steps along the way. Once all your hardware is in place though, the recommended method is your only alternative.

Optical drive installation is a cakewalk. The first three brackets pop right off, the drive slides into place…

and just a couple screws later your done.

With such a roomy case, power supply installation goes off without a hitch. The rubber support stands aid in damping power supply vibration.

Most cases I have to Angle in my GTX 280 just right in order for it to fit. Not with this case, plenty of room exists at the end of the card even after installation.

With all the hardware in place and cables routed this case still feels like its not completely full. Look how much room exists for the GTX 280 card alone. Nothing can feel more frustrating to trying to access board jumpers, or replace hardware in a cramped case. The selection of this case seems to be a very viable solution to avoid just such a hassle.

Lastly, just a slightly more pulled back angle, just to illustrated how spacious this case is yet again.

 

Verdict & Conclusion

The cooling capabilities of the Antec Twelve Hundred are nothing short of extraordinary. The Twelve Hundred features one top 200mm fan, two rear 120mm fans, three front 120mm fans, and two additional 120mm fan mounts to cool the graphic card and the CPU areas. All of the preinstalled system fans come wired with a three-speed switch control to adjust fan speeds right out of the box. Also, the case features a water cooling platform that can be used to position a reservoir or a pump.

Thermal performance of the case was outstanding. I don’t take readings and compare those with other cases, as my ambient room temperate varies too much on a day to day basis to acquire accurate results. However, we all know the 790i ultra chipset runs hot enough to fry an egg on, and two 280 GTX’s are no slouch in the thermal department either. Board and GPU’s temps dropped by a significant margin, utilizing this case for my home PC vs. my former full tower ATX case. Board temps alone (ASUS Striker Extreme 790i Ultra) ran about 10 degrees Celsius cooler.

You want expansion space? This case has it to spare. The Twelve Hundred features twelve front drive bays, and seven rear expansion slots, as well as an extremely spacious environment to work in. The case is more than large enough to facilitate the easy installation of even the largest video cards. Don’t forget, you can customize the case to acquire the right mix of external and internal drive bays to fit your needs.

The outstanding case functionality doesn’t just stop in the expansion department, the enclosure features a perforated front panel to facilitate more airflow, and a washable air filters. The Twelve Hundred also provides front mounted USB(x2), eSATA, and HD Audio In & Out ports for ease of access. The case runs along the lines of $200.00 at most major retailers. It may seem expensive in that price range, but take a quick look at cases in or around that price range, few come close to the build quality, performance, flashy aesthetics and feature set for that price. The Antec Twelve Hundred earns my top chassis recommendation for anyone looking to build a monster raid system, or a gaming machine to crush the competition with.

 


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